In his letter to the church in Pergamum, Jesus introduced himself as the one who has the sharp, double-edged sword. Inspecting the church carefully, he acknowledged their faithfulness. He said, “I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives” (Rev. 2:13). Considering that Pergamum was the capital city of ancient Asia and where Satan had his throne, it was not easy to live as Christians there. Nevertheless, the believers were able to withstand the pressure from the increasingly hostile population, even to the point of death. They continued to hold on to their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
While the church was found to be doing well, they were far from being perfect. Jesus found some blemish in them, which he was quick to point out. He said, “You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans” (Rev. 2:14-15). Some of the members of the church were either guilty of sexual immorality or teaching others to compromise their faith. The reason for their compromising lifestyle was that they believed that even by committing sexual immorality, they were still saved. Therefore, these supposed believers were engaged in sexual immorality and idolatry, without any qualms at all.
As with the church of Ephesus, Jesus gave this church a second chance, saying, “Repent! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth” (Rev. 2:16). This being a faithful church, Jesus did not need to use any other means to fight it other than the Word of God. His words were sharp and the convicting power of the Word was more than enough to cause their hearts to change. They fully understood that “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). Therefore, should they have chosen to persist in their sins, the Word of God was also enough to seal their fate.
It is encouraging to know that repentance brings not only healing and deliverance, but all kinds of spiritual blessings, as well. In this church, the Lord assured the salvation of those who would repent and renounce the teachings of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. He said, “To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna” (Rev. 2:17a). This hidden manna that the Lord promised to give was not the physical manna that Moses kept in a jar during their wandering in the desert. In one of his discourses with his disciples, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die” (John 6:48-50). He said further, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). In saying these, the hidden manna refers to the Word of God that brings salvation, which is hidden to the wicked, but will be revealed to those who will repent and overcome the works of the evil one. They will receive the Word of God that will assure them of their salvation in Christ Jesus.
Jesus also promised to give a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who received it (Rev. 2:17a). This stone symbolized the holy and blameless life that the believers would live, which was brought about by the hidden manna. We are told that we are cleansed by the washing with water through the Word (Eph. 5:26). Because we are born again, we have a new name, for we are now in Christ Jesus.
Friends, we alone would know whether we are truly carrying the name of the Lord Jesus Christ or not. When we call ourselves “Christians”, this is not just a title that we take on when we receive Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. Rather, Christianity is a lifestyle and, whether we are true to what we profess or not, is only known to us. Therefore, let us overcome all the works of the evil one and be true to our commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us cling on to the hidden manna that we received for our salvation. Hallelujah!